Adult Acquired Flatfoot
(Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction) is a painful,
progressive deformity in adults. It results from a gradual stretch (attenuation) of the tibialis posterior tendon and the ligaments that support your foot's arch. This stretching causes the tendon to
lose strength and function. Many people have flat feet and do not experience pain. However, pain occurs with Adult Acquired Flatfoot because the tendons and ligaments have been torn. Once the vital
ligaments and posterior tibial tendon are lost, there is no longer anything holding the arch of the foot in place.
Damage to the posterior tendon from overuse is the most common cause for adult acquired flatfoot. Running, walking, hiking, and climbing stairs are activities that add stress to this tendon, and this
overuse can lead to damage. Obesity, previous ankle surgery or trauma, diabetes (Charcot foot), and rheumatoid arthritis are other common risk factors.
Often, this condition is only present in one foot, but it can affect both. Adult acquired flatfoot symptoms vary, but can swelling of the foot's inner side and aching heel and arch pain. Some
patients experience no pain, but others may experience severe pain. Symptoms may increase during long periods of standing, resulting in fatigue. Symptoms may change over time as the condition
worsens. The pain may move to the foot's outer side, and some patients may develop arthritis in the ankle and foot.
Starting from the knee down, check for any bowing of the tibia. A tibial varum will cause increased medial stress on the foot and ankle. This is essential to consider in surgical planning. Check the
gastrocnemius muscle and Achilles complex via a straight and bent knee check for equinus. If the range of motion improves to at least neutral with bent knee testing of the Achilles complex, one may
consider a gastrocnemius recession. If the Achilles complex is still tight with bent knee testing, an Achilles lengthening may be necessary. Check the posterior tibial muscle along its entire course.
Palpate the muscle and observe the tendon for strength with a plantarflexion and inversion stress test. Check the flexor muscles for strength in order to see if an adequate transfer tendon is
available. Check the anterior tibial tendon for size and strength.
Non surgical Treatment
Flatfoot can be treated with a variety of methods, including modified shoes, orthotic devices, a brace or cast, anti-inflammatory medications or limited steroid injections, rest, ice, and physical
therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
In cases of PTTD that have progressed substantially or have failed to improve with non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. For some advanced cases, surgery may be the only option. Your foot
and ankle surgeon will determine the best approach for you.